As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL Regular Season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir detail and analyze the Capitals roster.
They will take a look at breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and a look at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, all leading up to the start of the NHL regular season.
It's time to take a look at which top prospects have the tools to become a full-time NHL player and what they have to do to get the call-up from Hershey.
Our first entry was Jakub Vrana.
Next up is Nathan Walker, who is on pace to become the first Australian to play in an NHL game.
PROSPECT PODCAST: Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann
YOU CAN WATCH TARIK AND JILL'S FULL BREAKDOWN OF NATHAN WALKER IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE.
2017-18 CAPITALS PROSPECT PREVIEW: NATHAN WALKER
Position: Left Wing
Contract: Two-Way. Two-year, $1.3 Million (2017)
AHL Seasons: 4 (202 games)
2016-17 AHL Stats: 58 games, 11 goals, 12 assists
NHL Seasons: 0
2016-17 NHL Stats: None
PREVIEWING 2017-18 BREAKOUT CANDIDATES: Tom Wilson | Brett Connolly | Andre Burakovsky
Tarik El-Bashir's Prospect Preview:
After spending a few seasons in the minors, it looks like Nathan Walker’s time has finally arrived.
Although nothing is set in stone, the 2014 third-round pick appears to be in good position to skate on the Caps’ fourth line in 2017-18, potentially in the spot previously occupied by Daniel Winnik.
Walker is listed at 5 foot 8, 186-pounds, but he makes up for that lack of size by playing with a noticeable edge.
In fact, the Australian winger has on more than one occasion referred to himself as a bit of a “pest” on the ice. Indeed, Walker finishes his hits, stands up for his teammates and doesn’t back down. Last preseason, if you recall, he squared up with Andrew Shaw after Shaw plastered fellow prospect Connor Hobbs with a dangerous hit. That fight typified Walker’s game.
Walker can put up stats, too. Two years ago in Hershey he amassed 17 goals and 24 assists in 73 games.
And it’s that mix of feistiness and offensive upside that makes him an intriguing player—and a solid candidate to lock down a spot on the opening night roster.
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Jill Sorenson's Prospect Analysis:
What He Has: "He plays with just a bit of an edge. I look at him and always think 'bulldog.' He's willing to make those sacrifices, go into the hard areas, and net-front pressence is something this team will absolutely need, especially with the loss of Marcus Johannson. He goes into the coach's office and asks about areas he can improve in. He gets it. It works well in that locker room."
What He Needs to Do: "He needs to pace himself. He's the type of guy who needs to be told when to turn the lights out at night."